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Bordeaux Blonde’s posts can now be found on www.insidertasting.com/blog

See you there for more food and wine and other adventures!

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One of the comments at the end of wine tours is that all we seem to do is eat and drink – no problem there thought I, that’s what your are here for but now Bordeaux blonde has found a solution.
A group of wine and yoga enthusiasts came together last week in the hills above the Dordogne river a stone’s throw from Saint Emilion.

Maison Cayrol is a beautiful small gite in Pujols where Asthanga yoga teacher Alexander Latour introduced us to the benefits of this powerful style of yoga.

Upward dog in the gardens of Maison Cayrol

And these women were taking no prisoners, tasting wine from the the region, including ‘sponsor’ Chateau de Seuil, and visiting farmers markets putting food and wine matching into action and then working it all out on the mat.

Alexander explains the poses

Given their enthusiasm next year Alexander will be back, taking wine and yoga a step further by holding classes in different wineries throughout the Bordeaux. There are more yogis in Bordeaux Chateaux than you would think.

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Here’s proof that you don’t to go all the way to Cornwall to get great fish and chips. Tasted at a dinner in the wonderfully renovated Chateau Soutard in Saint Emilion – but the chef was trained in England !

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Oh I do like to be beside the seaside and when Bordeaux Blonde made the most of her trip to the Cornish coast to sample the local seafood, and there was no shortage of choice of venues

Padstow was the first stop, known to many as Padstein thanks to the dominance of Rick Stein in the town. Starting with his Fish and chip shop We worked our way to the pinnacle of the flagship Seafood Restaurant on the next day. As wonderful as the food was a special mention to the fantastic staff who literally went the extra mile for us – they know who they are ! It reflects so well on an establishment when the staff are so efficient, friendly and so very obviously happy in their work.
One of the ‘graduates’ from the school of Stein (amongst others including Roux and Bras) is James Nathan, winner of Masterchef in 2008 James has now an independent chef. He came to the lovely Bothy in Trevone to cater for us and showed that his skills were not limited to fish but happily encompassed a complete range of regional, seasonal and even wild Cornish fare.

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James Nathan explains Cornish Cuisine at The Bothy.

However not all the eateries are Steined in Padstow – the wonderful harbour front tea shop The Cherry Tree, offered a mouthwatering selections of home made cakes and desserts that were difficult to resist and after a 2 hour hike across the cliff top from Trevone I didn’t feel I had to!

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Just desserts at the Cherry Tree after a cliff top walk.

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I sadly didn’t make it to the other side of Cornwall to another fish address on my bucket list; The Seahorse in Dartmouth the current HQ of fishmonger extraordinaire Mitch Tonks after leaving his Fishworks chain in 2007 but a close second I did manage to call into what was his original restaurant in Bristol now known as Rockfish http://. It remains a temple to fresh fish, simply and beautifully prepared, which was the whole ethos of his original vision inspired by Mitch’s background as a local fisherman. After a recent refurbishment the restaurant has a more modern look and a sneak preview of the new wine list showed several new Bordeaux listings – an added bonus for Bordeaux Blonde – red wine with fish anyone? Absolutely.

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The food in Mauritius is fabulous, everyone will tell you that. Just like the culture, the cuisine is a wonderful and unique blend of indian, african, asian and european resulting in great creole dishes such as Rougaille, vindaye and roti. These plus the great sea food, tropical fruit, palm hearts, game and even locally grown tea and coffee (don’t get me started on the rum) make it a foodie paradise. However even the most adventurous gourmet is always happy to sample some excellent pasta and, guess what, Mauritius has that too.

Enrico Rodati is the executive chef of the Heritage Resorts on the unspoilt south coast of the island, as his names implies of italian original and this has obviously influenced his staff. Last night chef Carl Rheeroo invited us into the kitchens of Annabella’s at the Telfair resort to experience the chef’s table. He prepared a pasta fest, step by step, right before our eyes, using local ingredients with a very italian twist.


Chef Carl starts the preparations

Pumpkin and potato gnocchi with scallops in a turmeric sauce, raviolis stuffed with local vegetables, papardelle with the beautiful local Camarons (giants prawns) and vielle rouge mal tagiatti.


Preparing the ravioli.


Et voila !

All this in the buzzing atmosphere of the kitchens during the dinner service and accompanied by italian wines chosen by sommelier Olivier Gastal-Pinach and tasted in the quieter tasting room just off the kitchens.

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Art on the beach

One thing I didn’t expect to find amongst the white sands and palm trees of Mauritius was fine art. There is a surprising number of international artists that have established themselves on the island, finding inspiration in its mixed heritage as well as its relaxed way of life. There are also local artists that have made fame and fortune overseas before returning to their roots.

Jean Claude Baissac was born in Mauritius but has spent his life in South Africa and Europe creating a fusion art of African and Indian ocean influences and is always keen to use his talent to denounce social injustice. He has now returned home to Mauritius where his brother, Vaco Baissac is perhaps more well known for his bright and more commercial depictions of island life. A similar nomadic story can be told of Simon Back who started life in Zimbabwe before moving to Mauritius where he now works in paint and ceramics creating eclectic abstract designs which he exhibits all over the world.

An untitled work by Jean-Claude Baissac

Not forgetting the ladies, two up and coming international artists recently established on the island are Suzy Tanji Flynn a Peruvian and Sarah Manoukian from France, both of whom use vivid colours and texture in their art.

Auros de Fuego by Suzy Tanji Flynn

So how did Bordeaux blonde find all these artists? Thanks to Gallery owner Christian Mermoud, at 3A The Excellence of Art Christian is Swiss, having lived and worked in art in France has now settled in Mauritius and represents a range of international and local artists over the island. The art world on the island would seem to be a reflection of just what a international melting pot Mauritius really is.

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World Cuisine

Learning the skills of local chefs is one of Bordeaux blondes favourite pastimes. Bordeaux chefs Gaelle Benoiste and Georges Gotrand often call in at home to share their secrets with foreign guests, however this time Bordeaux blonde was the foreign guest.

Mauritius is a land of 5 star luxury beach hotels, so an authentic local cuisine experience is a rarity on an island where most visitors concentrate on their tan. The local cuisine is a wonderful melting pot of indian, european and creole and the 5 star resort Shanti Maurice, , more often associated with their ultimate Ayurvedic spa, is also known for the asian fusion cuisine of chef Willibald Reinbacher.

Willibald Reinbacher BBQ’s on the beach

Situated on the unspoilt southern coast of the island their passion for sourcing local ingredients includes working with local farmers and fisherman. They have now taken a step further offering a more authentic experience of Mauritian creole cuisine in the home of a local resident, the grandma of the hotel manager’s PA. Small groups can try the local dishes with the family in their kitchen with dynamic 75-year-old Grandma Goindoo who grows most of the vegetables and herbs in her tiny back garden and then take away the book of ‘Grandma’s Secret Recipes’ to try at home – if you can find the ingredients. In the pipeline, for those who want to take things a step further than the kitchen garden, is the possibility of going out at dawn with a local fisherman to bring back the catch to prepare for a beach BBQ.

This year’s Worldwide Hospitality Awards gave ‘Grandma’s Kitchen’ from the Shanti Maurice the award for ‘Best Initiative in Clients Experience’.

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Hidden in Hedden Street, a little foodie paradise behind Regent street MOMO is a little bit of Oriental glamour and atmosphere in the heart of London. I visited this restaurant, restaurant really does not do this place justice – it’s a whole experience, one evening a few years ago for an amazing night of thousand and one food, wine and belly dancing. Im delighted to report it is still a terrific address and a perfect lunch spot. So close but so far from the madding crowd, an oasis of peace and fabulous food. Being able to eat outside on one of the last sunday days of autumn before the fog rolled in was an extra treat we could almost of been in Morocco for real

Bordeaux blonde even tried a few of the Moroccan wines on the menu, they were made by Bordeaux wine makers Yvon Mau – perhaps why I enjoyed them so much!

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Harlem Revival

Bordeaux Blonde is often in New York City but this was her first visit to Harlem.

In the past decade, Harlem has been rebuilt and transformed and now belies it’s previous rather dodgy reputtaion. New apartments, new restaurants and new galleries have come to Harlem, and I was lucky enough to sample some of these amazing changes a couple of weeks ago with the New York Wine and Food Society invited by friend and president Greg Hurst, this was to be a day out to remember.

Prosecco and Spoonbread’s modern take on traditional Southern Soul Cooking accompanied a live Gospel recital by Bethel Gospel Church, one of the largest Pentecostal churches in Harlem. All this in a newly built panoramic apartment on the 27th floor with views of Harlem all the way down 5th avenue to Central Park.

The view down town

Then for the culture, onto Renaissance Fine Art where owner Curator Paula Coleman gave us the low down on the Harlem visual arts scene – with more wine. Followed by a Backstage Tour of the historic Apollo Theater which aught me all about Harlem musical history; this theatre helped launch the careers of such musical greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Gladys Knight, and so many others.

Finally a well earned dinner at Red Rooster, named after the legendary Harlem speakeasy, this is rightly touted as the hottest restaurant in Harlem with live music, dancing and even cooking classes using local produce. Harlem resident Chef Marcus Samuelsson serves traditional American comfort (the corn bread was to die for). His cuisine was accompanied by South African wines from importer Cape Classics

That corn bread

Altogether an eclectic day that perfectly reflected the energetic atmosphere of this part of New York that really took me by surprise.

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